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In episode 11 of the Tech Product Review podcast supplement, guest expert Andrew Jenkins chats with host Bill Banham talk about Sysomos - a unified, insights-driven social platform empowering marketers and sales teams to search, discover, listen, publish, engage, and analyze across earned, owned, and paid media.

Listen to the show here.

Read the transcript:

Bill Banham: Today, we are going to be talking about Sysomos, a unified, insights driven, social platform, which helps marketers and sales pros search, discover, listen, publish, and engage across and owned and paid media. As always, Andrew Jenkins, welcome to the CPSA Product Review show.

Andrew Jenkins: Thanks for having me.

Bill Banham: Okay, Andrew, firstly, what is Sysomos? What does it do? And, how does it help?

Andrew Jenkins: It's a social media listening solution. It came out of the University of Toronto, and it can do things ranging from share a voice, so, if you wanted to compare companies or brands from one to the other in terms of how much they're being talked about, as well as monitor trending conversations that are online. There are also surfaced different tangential or peripheral conversations that might surface some actionable insights.

Bill Banham: Okay, and so, how does a listening tool like that help sales pros in terms of harnessing their message and trying to understand what's fashionable at the moment, what's being spoken about, what's gonna resonate their audiences?

Andrew Jenkins: Well, several things. It can help you understand how your company and your product or service is being talked about in general, what sort of sentiment is being expressed about it, how you're being talked about in relation to your competition, how your competition is being talked about, and their product or service. So, in a sense, you're getting access to a focus group that you didn't have to form and get direct feedback about your product or service. And, you're getting feedback about your competitors, all of which can inform your product or service or overall strategy.

You can hear ping points from customers. You can see and hear what content is resonating with them, what they're sharing. It's tremendously valuable and tremendously powerful in terms of the insights that you can capture about your own product or service, your company, as well as your competition, and just the overall sense of ping points and mindset of your customer.

Bill Banham: So, how does one go about analyzing that information? What does the user interface look like? What's that user experience? It kind of sounds more like potentially it's a tool that marketers may be would use first and interpret, and then give that information to their sales team.

Andrew Jenkins: Well, typically, social media listening tends to fall into customer service or marketing. Sales, I think, to your point, if marketing is monitoring or even the product team is marketing such that they're paying attention to reference to the produce, and so on, and they're forming the product team. Well, they can also inform the sales team, so that they can either deal with objections, or they can deal with positioning their product in relation to what they're hearing about their competitors.

In terms of the user interface, Sysomos has been designed to make it pretty intuitive where there's fields that you're populating that will help you build a query, which is the term used, very, very quickly. Then, you can stipulate the dates. So, typically, the methodology for social media listening, regardless of tool, is that you tend to cast a wide net first. Then, you tune it or tweak it to get closer to what's relevant. Then, you also in the process exclude irrelevant posts.

For example, we were doing this social media listening project last year arrayed to insurance. Insurance, typically, is tied to life events. So, we were listening for all the different expressions used about having a baby, getting pregnant, expecting. The family is growing. The family is expanding, one more to the team, all these different kinds of praises. So, when it comes to designing a query or a monitor, you've got to think about all the different combinations and permutations.

You also sort of reverse engineer it. Think about how we don't talk about something literally. We talk around it, sometimes, or we have different ways of saying it where people can make the conclusion from our expressions. So, that takes a little bit of time to learn, and also engineer, and this is why they have algorithms to assist you is to help build the query and understand what you're looking for and exclude the irrelevant.

Bill Banham: Yes, you just touched upon something there I was just about to bring up with you, then. So, it sounds like it could otherwise be a massive undertaking to try and understand what those queries are, but is it a little bit like having a Sales Navigator account, then, when you type in a couple of keywords or industries, and then it makes suggestions for you, and that's when the algorithms start doing their thing. Is that kind of the premise?

Andrew Jenkins: No, this is far more powerful, no disrespect to Sales Navigator. I mean, Sales Navigator, you're putting in keywords, and you're finding people related to those keywords, and maybe the odd posts in your feed related to them. No, this is far more powerful in terms of I might find, I'll call it, the core conversations. So, for example, we're recording this the morning after the Academy Awards. Now, I might create a monitor monitoring the hashtag Oscars. Now, pardon me, that'll be my core monitor. Sysomos will intuitively build peripheral conversations that are happening in and around that hashtag.

So, I may find secondary hashtags that are trending, secondary keywords that are dominating the conversation, and this is where salespeople, marketers, customer service, the product team, they may not be able to predict what those peripheral or sub-conversations are and who the participants are. You might find some very influential people. You might find some sales leads. You might find some dissatisfied customers or very satisfied customers that you are unaware of and whose situation you could amplify they're praising, or you could deal with directly if they're complaining about your product or service.

Those sorts of capabilities and, again, no disrespect to Sales Navigator, that functionality just doesn't exist in Navigator. That's not what it's meant to be.

Bill Banham: Okay, good, so it sounds like there's lots of uses. Are there any shortcomings?

Andrew Jenkins: It does take a bit to get accustomed to building queries. It's not something you can whip together in just a few minutes. Some of them can be very, very complex, because it's not just building what you're looking for, it's also making exclusions. So, you can end up getting a lot of irrelevant stuff. Oftentimes, myself included, and some other people I know in the social media listening monitoring space, you have to automatically exclude any mentions of Trump. He dominates so many conversations that even when you think, "Well, what would he have to do with this conversation?" There might be some keywords that you're using or a hashtag that inadvertently pulls in a post or more that has him mentions. So, then you've got to filter that out.

You learn over time, and as well through iterations, what kind of posts are you pulling in that you want to exclude, so that can take a bit of time. And as well, this is not a tool that's built for just the solopreneur. This is more of an enterprise-grade solution, so you're getting into the $1,000+ a month, depending on the package that you choose.

Bill Banham: You're a mind reader, Mr. Jenkins. It's almost as if we've done these interviews before. I was just about to ask you is there a cost, and if so, how much is it? So, it starts in the thousands. Can you give us a bit of an idea, though, of what the enterprise-level companies will be looking to pay?

Andrew Jenkins: Well, they've got Map and Heartbeat is two different products, and again, depending on whether you're negotiating a monthly, or if you want to pay up front for an annual, and they've evolved. If you're doing agency where you're doing it on behalf of clients, as I mentioned, if you're a marketer, if you're in customer service, then it's going to vary in terms of the application. You might find one solution is more applicable than the other. They'll tailor the price, then, depending on your solution. Some listing solutions, it's on the per seat license. Some are what's based on the volume of mentions that you're capturing.

You asked earlier about potential shortcomings, well, this is not just the issue with Sysomos. Increasingly, we are relying on the online conversations that are occurring on Twitter, because it's open and public. These monitoring solutions can't get the online conversations that are happening inside Linked-In, for example. Or some of them are able to pick up Instagram, but again, that's only public data. So, you have to understand that anything you're doing from a capture on a monitor with these is that they're a bit of a proxy for some of the other channels.

Bill Banham: Are there any competitors, and if so, who are they?

Andrew Jenkins: There's Meltwater, Brandwatch, I think Brand24, NUVI, Salesforce Marketing Cloud. I think Oracle has a listening solution as part of their social suite. I'm not sure of the name. Mention, or Social Mention, and some vary from there's some free ones that are constrained in their functionality or the amount of data that they'll produce. Then, there's the price increases. They've become more robust in their functionality and their reporting and the data that they capture.

Bill Banham: Perfect, and just finally, as always, we'd like to wrap up by giving our tool as a bit of a rating. So, out of five, Mr. Jenkins, what would you give to Sysomos?

Andrew Jenkins: I might have it as, I would give it a four out of five. These tools do demand a bit of effort on the part of the user. As intuitive as it is for doing some quick query building, it still requires a bit of roll your sleeves up and, again, thinking about what about an online conversation am I trying to capture? You have to break it down, and as I was saying earlier, thinking about how do we refer to something or describe it that sometimes is somewhat, I'll call it indirect. And it's thinking through those things and the way our expressions and our slang, and so on. It's skill that develops as you use these sorts of tools more and more.

Bill Banham: You also mentioned a moment ago, NUVI, as one of the competitors. Listeners, there is another show specifically on NUVI, so be sure to check that out, but for now, Andrew Jenkins, that just leaves me to say, thank you very much for being the guest on the CPSA's Product Review show.

Andrew Jenkins: My pleasure, thanks.

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